Eagle PR, Oklahoma Christian University’s student-run public relations firm, is raising awareness for With Purpose, an organization advocating for safe and effective childhood cancer treatment options.
The on-campus PR firm is participating in the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA) event called the Bateman Case Study Competition. According to their website, the competition is an opportunity for students to gain real-world experience working for a legitimate client while building their resumes and portfolios.
According to Josh Watson, academic advisor for Eagle PR, this is the third year the entirely student-run PR firm is competing. He said With Purpose is an organization two parents started after losing their two-year-old son to brain cancer. Watson said the parents were frustrated with the lack of treatment options for children battling cancer and recognized the need for change.
“There’s only been four new drug treatments in the last 30 years for childhood cancer,” Watson said. “National institutes of health does four percent of their budget for childhood cancer. It’s just an area that a lot of people—especially the older that you are—just kind of say, ‘There’s nothing we can do. We’ve done everything we can do.’ It’s a real defeatist view that these parents of a child with cancer felt.”
In addition, Watson said the organization realized pharmaceutical companies did not seem interested in investing research in childhood cancer treatments, and resisted putting significant money into the cause.
“[The parents] were frustrated by all these things and said, ‘The culture of childhood cancer in America needs to change,’” Watson said. “‘The younger you are, it seems, the more you buy into that message, so we’re going to start a nonprofit that tries to motivate, especially younger people, in fighting for change and trying to do more.’”
According to the With Purpose website, their partnership with PRSSA is an opportunity to use more young voices as a “game changer for the childhood cancer community.”
Eagle PR Firm Director Mandolin Skipworth said her team has implemented several methods to raise awareness during the competition, which runs from Feb. 15 through March 15. Although she said their goal is primarily to raise awareness about the medical and research needs, Skipworth said individuals can also invest financially in the cause.
“We’ve had the table set up in the student center where students can write cards to kids with cancer,” Skipworth said. “Our team specifically is going to children’s hospitals—the one at OU and then there’s one in Bethany. We’re going there on Wednesday to give the cards out to kids and then we have care packages for them.”
“I think for us, specifically, it’s mostly awareness, especially because we’re such a small school that we don’t have as much of an opportunity to raise as much money as bigger schools can. I think at the end of the day we are also trying to raise money, because there’s such a lack of funding to cures or medicine in any way for kids with cancer because a lot of the [treatment] that we have for adults doesn’t work for [kids].”
Eagle PR Digital Media Director Elizabeth Killough said With Purpose is organizing one of the campaign’s biggest fundraisers—Lincoln Logs for Sam. She said the organization is hoping to set a world record for building the largest Lincoln Log structure, which will take place in South Carolina March 10. Killough said individuals can donate money by sponsoring a log in the build.
“We’re going to live stream the event happening, hopefully at the Brew,” Killough said. “We’re trying to see if we can get the Garner Brothers to come. Just getting to watch it happen and getting to encourage OC students to be there—that’s one of our biggest events.”
Killough said the cause is close to her heart, as she watched a friend fight and survive cancer while they were both in elementary school. She said she is glad to work with her team to raise awareness for a cause she is passionate about and has strong ties to.
“[My friend] has been kind of my driving force through all of it,” Killough said. “I watched him go through it and it was really really hard but watching how strong his faith was throughout it all and watching how much I grew in my faith because of it, this whole thing is just very close to my heart.”